Claude Puel has insisted that Southampton have what it takes to balance their domestic and European workload as they prepare for a hectic period in the season.
The Saints head to the Czech Republic to face Sparta Prague in the Europa League on Thursday evening, ahead of a Premier League tie with Everton and an EFL Cup quarter-final showdown against Arsenal in the next seven days.
Despite the congested fixture list across three different competitions, Puel is confident that his side – currently 11th in the English top flight – have what it takes to continue battling on three fronts over the coming weeks.
“At the beginning of the season I said it would be a difficult season with this many games and to have the ability to keep a good balance between all the competitions,” he told reporters. “We have tried this with a young squad and perhaps we can do more in the Premier League with the results.
“It is difficult to keep a good lucidity and fresh players every time and to keep the good energy. The good energy is not just physical but the spirit [mind] is also important. To play the game after Inter Milan was very difficult and after this we lost at Hull City.
“I believe we can make progress for the future and hope we can continue in all the competitions. It would be very interesting and important for this club because [the players] learn all the time. It is always difficult because the Premier League has every time strong games and physical games.”
Southampton trail opponents Sparta by two points in the Group K standings, with just one more game – at home to Hapoel Be’er Sheva – to come after tomorrow night’s clash.